One leading Democrat in the House says the country is "destroying its own future" by letting the arbitrary across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, launch the nation into austerity. But days out from the March 1 deadline, hopes of Congress striking a belated deal dwindle.
"It's more likely that the sequester will continue," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Weekends with Alex Witt Saturday. "If it does continue, the pain is going to be more and more severe as every month goes by because we're making a year's worth of cuts in seven months."
The sequester took effect Friday night when President Obama signed the order triggering $85 billion in spending cuts he opposed, but he and Congress failed to avert. Republicans rejected any plan that included new tax revenues.
"It is so dysfunctional in the capital," Schiff said. "The parties need to come to the table. Right now only the Democrats are sitting at the table. The GOP in the House I think decided a month and a half ago they were going to allow the sequester to go into effect, that cuts was their top priority and they were okay with the consequences."
Senate Democrats sketched out a bill that would have replaced the sequestration with a combination package of alternative spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthiest of Americans. The bill ultimately failed in the Senate Thursday. The next day, members of the Tea Party caucus hailed the sequestration cuts as "the first significant Tea Party victory" in Washington.
With most lawmakers out of town this weekend, and few willing or ideologically driven to avert the cuts, it does not appear a deal will be reached any time soon.
"Right now we don't have a negotiating partner in the House," said Rep. Schiff. "In fact, the GOP is at war with itself between the Tea Party Caucus and the rest of the GOP. And until we know who we're negotiating with, it's very difficult."